Interpreting the 'Song' Of a Distant Black Hole


Court Jester
Sep 27, 2005
Astronomers in England have discovered a singing black hole in a distant cluster of galaxies. In the process of listening in, the team of astronomers not only heard the lowest sound waves from an object in the Universe ever detected by humans, but they've also discovered an important clue about the formation of galaxy clusters -- the largest structures in the cosmos.

Dr. Andrew Fabian and his colleagues at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, England made their discovery using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, an orbiting X-ray telescope that sees the Universe in X-ray light just as the Hubble Space Telescope sees it in visible light.

The black hole is situated in the center of a galaxy amid a group of thousands of galaxies collectively called the Perseus Cluster and located 250 million light years from Earth (meaning it took the light from these galaxies 250 million years to reach us). The sound waves coming from it are in the form of a single note, so rather than a song it is really a drone.
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